Bloomberg Businessweek

The Protests’ Collateral Damage

As free-spending travelers avoid embattled Hong Kong, its tourism-dependent workers are losing jobs
Senior citizens wait for free meal coupons

Ho Siu-ying, 76, who’s been piloting her tire-ringed, wooden sampan to the iconic Jumbo Floating Restaurant in Hong Kong’s Aberdeen harbor for 35 years, has never seen such hard times. Normally, ferrying diners back and forth nets her $13 to $26 for a day’s work—enough to live modestly in public housing with her daughter and even take an occasional leisure trip to the Chinese mainland. But with a catastrophic drop in tourism caused by seven months of civil unrest, she frequently goes home empty-handed. “A lot of days I’m working for no pay,” she says, with an unusually cheerful laugh that causes the wrinkles around her eyes to crease and conceals her concern, which she shares in a quieter voice. “I’m honestly very worried right now because I’m using up my savings.”

In early January, Jumbo—which has been visited by notables including Tom Cruise and Queen Elizabeth II and whose red and gold, Ming Dynastystyled exterior has appeared in many movies—dismissed about 60 employees, or almost half its staff. It’s cut back its

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